#ambition

You can’t have too much of a good thing, right? One more tumbler of whiskey or an extra round of golf or one last bite of dessert. It has become common to indulge and order too many line items off the menu before realizing there isn’t room for all that good stuff in my tummy. After a long, four-day work week and scenic route home through Long Beach, I thought it would be a good idea to treat myself to sketchy Mexican food and went for the chicken quesadilla. And some chicken tacos. And carne asada tacos. And plenty of chips and salsa and guacamole. I excused myself and tossed out the extra grub, not wanting to see or smell one more morsel of cilantro-spiced meat. Maybe I should have just ordered one of the menu-suggested combinations.

Sometimes it is easy to volunteer to help with a task without fully understanding the scope of what is being asked. Or perhaps being assigned to complete a project without being qualified or trained well enough to complete in a timely manner. It is easier to accept and say “yes sir” and aim to tackle the assignment and giving maximum effort, even if it is a rung over my head. The delay between blog posts can be blamed on having my head space filled with various metallurgical issues and terminology that I have had to learn on the fly, and creatively solving problems and coordinating with different parties across various different time zones. It has been exhausting and this particular ongoing dilemma has taken up most of my work days over the last month.

Ambition is a strong desire to do or achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work. That definition may be properly applied during the work week or crossing errands off the to-do list. In this case I’m choosing to apply the word ambition to the variety of plans set forth over the Labor Day holiday weekend. This is a retro re-cap of how to best spend the end of White Pants Season in Southern California.

Friday 9/4: Just another Friday work day, counting down to the end of the day and kick-off for a much-needed holiday weekend. After escaping the office and battling traffic and navigating the Southland, we arrived at the beautiful Hollywood Bowl. It was to be a combination of many of my favorite things: cinema, orchestra music, and wine. (Actually, none of those things would be near my Top-10.) However, seeing ET in this setting was easily one of my favorite nights in California. The entire evening was such a pleasant surprise. LA Philharmonic supplied the musical score throughout the film. The bottle of white wine paired perfectly with Reese’s Pieces and the rest of the picnic basket contents and the unexpected intermission allowed us to grab a tall-boy of Corona to fully enjoy ET’s return home. I was a exhausted, but it was well-worth the late night adventure.

Saturday 9/5: I kept all requests at an arm’s length all week, but eventually gave in to relentless peer pressure. I didn’t actually have anything to do, no better plans, no excuse not to enjoy the crowds and scenery at Fiesta Hermosa. There was mediocre cover bands playing on the pier and random beach volleyball games as far as you could see in either direction. But we were there to watch college football and drink, and not in that order. It was just going to be a drink or two, but once again it was too easy to have my arm twisted and enjoy the friendly company. The whiskey flowed like wine and we bounced from bar to bar, from backyard to beach, from Flip Cup to Beirut. I was told afterward about my dominant ping-pong performance, perhaps that was enough reason to strap on the championship belt.

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Sunday 9/6: I did not feel like much of a winner Sunday morning when the alarm rang early. Despite all indulgence on the beach, it was still on the itinerary to visit San Diego for a same-day trip Sunday to see the Dodgers and Padres. The drive down the Five was miserable, shaking out the cobwebs and craving more than the granola bar for the 120 mile journey. Traffic was intermittent throughout the trip, but I made it downtown SD with time to spare. Maybe I should have packed a bag for the trip, including something more breathable than a pair of dark jeans for my ticketed seat in the sweltering right field heat. I enjoyed a burger from Hodad’s during the early innings and meandered around the ballpark for much of the game; seeking any combination of cool shade and decent view. Postgame pizza was at a perfect pizza-by-the-slice joint called Ciro’s. I took my Diet Coke and embarked on the journey back to Long Beach. The ambition of a return from San Diego seemed even worse now, but I was back to Long Beach after 8pm and headed straight to bed. I would do it again, though perhaps next time without having so much fun the day before.

Monday 9/7: The holiday weekend allowed for an extra day of recovery and a round of golf at Black Gold GC. We were paired up as a foursome with two singles and made our way around the 18. It became clear during the round that I did not pack my A-game, in fact I don’t think I packed anything at all. I would have been better off using a shovel or baseball bat instead of golf clubs. Lost balls and penalty strokes piled up and shots were fired in every direction other than the intended one. And any good shot and temporary boost of confidence was quickly discarded by another frustrating miss. At least the day ended with a towering sandwich and Puma Kola at Roscoe’s Deli. My golf game departed, but at least football is back. And back to work tomorrow, scorching high temperatures forecasted, leaving many upcoming sleepless nights to look forward to.


Ray Kroc

Ray Kroc was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on October 5, 1902. Kroc worked as a salesman for 17 years after World War I, before becoming involved with McDonald’s in the 1950s. Kroc purchased the restaurant company in 1961, implementing automation and strict preparation standards that helped make McDonald’s the world’s largest restaurant franchise before his death in 1984, at the age of 81.

Ray Albert Kroc was born to parents of Czech origin in Oak Park, Illinois, on October 5, 1902. Kroc participated in World War I as a Red Cross ambulance driver, lying about his age to begin serving at 15. During his training, Kroc met Walt Disney, with whom he would maintain a professional relationship for most of his life. Fellow Oak Park native Ernest Hemingway also spent his time in the war as an ambulance driver.

Following the armistice, Kroc explored a number of career options, including paper cup salesman, pianist and DJ on a local Oak Park radio station. He worked for room and board at a restaurant, hoping to learn the business. He first put his restaurant knowledge to use as a traveling milkshake machine salesman. The machines that Kroc sold made five shakes at a time, increasing restaurant efficiency. He remained in sales for 17 years.

It was in his role as a milkshake machine salesman that Kroc first became involved with McDonald’s, a restaurant chain based in San Bernardino, California. The McDonald brothers were clients who had purchased multiple mixers. Grasping the franchising potential of McDonald’s, Kroc offered to work as a franchising agent for a cut of the profits. Ultimately, Kroc’s ambitions for the restaurants eclipsed those of the McDonald brothers. In 1955, Kroc became president of the McDonald’s Corporation. He bought out the owners entirely six years later. In 1977, after leading McDonald’s past archrival Burger King, Kroc reassigned himself to the role of senior chairman. He held this position until his death in 1984.

Under Kroc’s ownership, McDonald’s retained some of its original character while incorporating new elements. Kroc kept the assembly line approach to hamburger preparation that the McDonald brothers pioneered in the 1940s. Kroc’s key contributions to the restaurant were automation, standardization and discipline. Franchise owners, carefully chosen for their ambition and drive, went through a training course at “Hamburger University” in Elk Grove, Illinois. There, they earned certificates in “hamburgerology with a minor in french fries.” Kroc focused his efforts on growing suburban areas, capturing new markets with familiar food and low prices.

While some critics lambasted the nutritional content of McDonald’s food and its treatment of teenage workers, the model that Kroc engineered proved extremely profitable. Kroc’s strict guidelines regarding preparation, portion sizes, cooking methods and packaging ensured that McDonald’s food would look and taste the same across franchises. These innovations contributed to the success of the McDonald’s brand on a global scale. By the time of Ray Kroc’s death, McDonald’s had 7,500 locations in 31 countries and was worth $8 billion. His personal fortune was estimated at $500 million.

via Biography.com

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